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The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989)

af Oscar Hijuelos

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Serier: The Mambo Kings (1)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,953318,284 (3.57)93
Om to cubanske brd̜re i 1950'ernes New York, hvor de tjener til livets ophold ved slidsomt arbejde om dagen, mens de om aftenen er stjerner i dansehallerne, hvor de spiller i et mamboorkester.
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» Se også 93 omtaler

Engelsk (27)  Spansk (4)  Alle sprog (31)
Viser 1-5 af 31 (næste | vis alle)
If you want to read 400 meandering pages about the huge penis of a repugnant, misogynist rapist, this is the book for you. If you are sane, skip it. ( )
  myshkin77 | Aug 10, 2023 |
First edition good
  dgmathis | Mar 15, 2023 |
In 1949, brothers Cesar and Nestor Castillo leave Havana, Cuba and make their home in New York. They are musicians who experience a brief brush with fame with a song written by Nestor to an idealized love interest. They catch the attention of fellow Cuban Desi Arnaz and make a cameo appearance on the I Love Lucy show. It covers the brothers’ childhood in Cuba and Cesar’s life into his sixties.

The first half of the book tells a story of contrasting personalities – Cesar is the flamboyant lead singer who enjoys the limelight and Nestor is more comfortable in a supporting role. Cesar chases women relentlessly while Nestor is fixated on one early relationship to the detriment of his wife and children. The second half focuses on Cesar, sitting in a run-down hotel room in 1980, drinking whiskey, listening to his group’s old recordings, and reflecting back on his life. The introduction and conclusion are written from the viewpoint of Nestor’s son, Eugenio, providing the next generation’s perspective.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the positive side, the writing is expressive and convincingly evokes the period of the 1940s and 1950s. The musical references provide a wealth of material to investigate further, which I always appreciate. On the negative side, the plot is almost exclusively focused on drinking and sex. The main character is drinking himself to death, and the many sex scenes are extremely graphic. There is little character development. It does not leave much room for anything beyond commenting on a shallow life. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1990. ( )
  Castlelass | Nov 5, 2022 |
I wanted to love this book. It has a genuine flavor of time gone by, of the days just before and during the Cuban revolution that brought Castro to power and transported so many Cuban citizens to America. It is a trip behind the curtain, into a different culture and the hopes and dreams of a handsome musician, Cesar Castillo, and his brother, Nestor.

I wanted to love this book, but I didn’t. There were parts of it that were marvelous, but there was a kind of shadow that stood between me and Cesar, and I found myself just watching him, instead of knowing him or feeling him. Which is ironic, because feeling him is 50% of what this book is about. For Cesar is a “macho”, a man of virility, a man who lays every woman he meets, wants to lay even his sister-in-law, and I would say, finds very little else to admire about a woman beyond her sexuality.

There is a kind of sadness in the life Cesar lives, and the sex is part of it, because the focus on sex precludes him from ever making a connection that lasts. He is a man of dreams, but in the end, he has a moment of fame that involves a guest shot on I Love Lucy and a tenuous connection with Desi Arnaz. He lives a lifetime off that moment and a song that his brother writes that almost achieves them fame.

He has friends and family, but I could never decide if we were supposed to believe this was enough to make a life worthwhile or see his life as a wasteland. I confess that I settled on the latter, which made the book have no upside for me and left me feeling as if I had viewed a picture painting of disappointment and despair. I could not find one single character in the entire book who lived anything close to a fulfilling or happy life.

I do not feel that I am a prude. The sexual exploits in Cesar’s life are a necessary part of the narrative to understand who he is and what drives him, but I do not need explicit and detailed descriptions of every carnal act, thought, and desire. I always feel something can be left to the imagination and feel a little resentful when an author assumes he might be the only person who knows about sex, so he needs to explain it to the rest of us. More effective, I would think, to tell me how it makes Cesar feel, why he acts as he does, than a three page description of fellatio itself. In fact, my main objection to the book would be the repeated (and I stress this is not once or twice) descriptions of body parts and the fact that this man could not even attend a funeral without thinking about sex with the women in attendance. I realize this almost pornographic element would not bother everyone and would actually be an enhancement for some. Apparently, it appealed to the Pulitzer Committee.

Perhaps I am just worn out with this theme. [b:The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling|99329|The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling|Henry Fielding|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1444450775l/99329._SY75_.jpg|1350343], which was the last novel I finished before this one, was one sexual romp after another, and the [b:The Saga of Gösta Berling|6358385|The Saga of Gösta Berling|Selma Lagerlöf|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1348424032l/6358385._SY75_.jpg|1623527], before Jones, was much the same. I am definitely looking for a book that is about a celibate for my next read, maybe it is time for another Brother Cadfael.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Delve into this book if you want a cultural education in Cuba and its music. Taking place in the 1950s, two Cuban brothers emigrate to the United States with big dreams of conquering the music scene. Cesar Castillo looks back on his life, playing mambo music with his brother, Nester and having a small spotlight in the fame arena after a guest appearance on an episode of I Love Lucy. I read this book on the heels of the Netflix documentary about Desi and Lucy so it seemed as if the couple was everywhere. Confessional: I couldn't really get into this book. The parts where Desi Arnez makes an appearance were my favorite and, as the story went on, I began to skip scenes that involved sex or Nestor pining over "Beautiful Maria." I grew weary of the repetition. I did appreciate all the references to music of the era. ( )
1 stem SeriousGrace | Apr 18, 2022 |
Viser 1-5 af 31 (næste | vis alle)
You finish feeling as Cesar's first music teacher in Cuba told him audiences should feel when a song ends -ready to throw up your arms and cry, ''Que bueno es!'' Mr. Hijuelos is writing music of the heart, not the heart of flesh and blood that stops beating, ''but this other heart filled with light and music . . . a world of pure affection, before torment, before loss, before awareness.''
 

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Oscar Hijuelosprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Marcellino, FredOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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It was a Saturday afternoon on La Salle Street, years and years ago when I was a little kid, and around three o'clock Mrs Shannon, the heavy Irish woman in her perpetually soup-stained dress, open her back window and shouted out into the courtyard "Hey, Cesar, yoo-hoo, I think you're on television, I swear it's you!"
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Om to cubanske brd̜re i 1950'ernes New York, hvor de tjener til livets ophold ved slidsomt arbejde om dagen, mens de om aftenen er stjerner i dansehallerne, hvor de spiller i et mamboorkester.

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